by Patrick Hoffman on 02/08/11 at 02:00 PM ET
This is the question that New York Rangers’ fans are asking themselves after a tough 3-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings at the Joe Louis Arena last night.
After working extremely hard to stay in the thick of the ever tight Eastern Conference playoff race, the team’s current five game winless streak has put them in the seventh spot in the conference. The Blueshirts are just four points in front of the eighth place Carolina Hurricanes and the Atlanta Thrashers.
The team is struggling to score the big goal, having trouble on the power play and not getting contributions from its scoring sniper, Marian Gaborik. All of these things lead to a much less potent Rangers’ hockey club and one that could very well find themselves golfing come April rather than competing for the Stanley Cup.
With regards to the team’s power play, the coaching staff needs to figure out a system that plays to the team’s strengths, which is working hard down lo and scoring the dirty goals. Instead, the team is electing to pass rather than shoot, giving the opponent a very easy read on the Rangers’ power play.
Last night, the Blueshirts’ had the power play for the last few minutes of the hockey game with a chance to tie the game and they barely generated a quality scoring chance. This needs to change fast if they want to have any hope of getting into the playoffs come April.
When it comes to Marian Gaborik, one has to wonder where his game went. Gaborik scored over 40 goals last season and was one of the main reasons the Blueshirts were alive until the last game of the regular season against the Philadelphia Flyers.
This season, while he does have 16 goals, he just hasn’t been the same. His explosiveness comes and goes, he is not putting the puck on net at the rate he did last season and more importantly, he’s not scoring any goals in the clutch.
There is still a lot of hockey left to be played but it will go quicker than you think. With that in mind, the Rangers’ need to fix things fast if they want to find themselves in the playoff picture at the end of the season.
If they don’t, then the title of this blog entry will become a reality for the team and its fans.
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.